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Archive for the ‘Funding’ Category

Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

A message from Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children (SFC).

“As September starts, children and families across Massachusetts are heading back to school. Even programs that run for a full calendar year are enrolling new children and families and supporting these children as they make this transition. Some children are starting kindergarten and entering an elementary school for the first time. Some children are also entering a classroom for the first time because they’ve had no prior preschool experience. Indeed, national, state, and local data confirm that there is great variation in young children’s experiences during their first five years, and this is, unfortunately, where achievement gaps take root.

“There has been great interest in expanding high-quality early education opportunities for children in the commonwealth. Legislators filed several bills to do this work, however comprehensive pre-K expansion did not become state law this past legislative session. The state’s revenue picture remains challenging, and without additional revenue expanding access to high-quality early education and care will be difficult. (more…)

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Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

A new article in the Atlantic (courtesy of the Hechinger Report) — “What Boston’s Preschools Get Right” — looks at how Boston is building high-quality programs — and how some cities are pushing ahead on pre-K even though state and federal governments are lagging behind.

At Dorchester’s Russell Elementary School, a day in a pre-K classroom “could be a primer on what high-quality preschool is supposed to look like,” the article says. “Children had free time to play with friends in a stimulating environment, received literacy instruction that pushed beyond comprehension to critical thinking and communication, and were introduced to complex mathematics concepts in age-appropriate ways. All three practices have been shown to go beyond increasing what children know to actually improving how well they learn in kindergarten and beyond.” (more…)

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Photo: Governor Shumlin's Flickr page

Photo: Governor Shumlin’s Flickr page

Thanks to a law passed in 2014, Vermont is breaking one of preschool’s glass ceilings. It’s the first state in the country to require communities to offer 10 hours a week of free, high-quality preschool to all of its 3- and 4-year-olds for 35 weeks a year.

“Universal Pre-K is a win for children, taxpayers, working families, and employers,” Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin said earlier this summer. “We all know that preparing children to enter elementary school ready to learn is one of the best ways [to] set up our next generation for success and avoid costly interventions later in life.”

“Shumlin signed the law in 2014 and it went into effect July 1, but some communities implemented programs early. The programs include those operated by community programs, public schools, private early education and care programs and Head Start,” according to the Burlington Free Press(more…)

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Photo: Carrie Giddings. Source: The Hechinger Report

Photo: Carrie Giddings. Source: The Hechinger Report

A bracing article describes that the United States has become “one of the worst countries in the developed world for children under five.”

Published by the Hechinger Report, the article’s headline declares, “What do we invest in the country’s youngest? Little to nothing.”

Hechinger sounds the refrain of “little to nothing” again and again, pointing out that the country could do better.

In fact, the United States has “provided universal public preschool before, for a few years during World War II. That program ended in 1946.”

And in 1971, “a bipartisan bill that would have created universal daycare” was vetoed by President Richard Nixon.

This has hurt the country. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

There isn’t a lot of new state funding for early education and care for fiscal year 2017, but Massachusetts is holding steady, keeping existing funds flowing to provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced “$42 million in grant awards” for a number of initiatives to “support the quality and availability of early education and care programs” across the Commonwealth.

“High-quality early education and care programs provide children with a strong foundation for learning, academic success, and positive outcomes overall,” Baker said in a press release.

“We thank our early education providers and agency partners who work hard every day to provide our youngest learners with the tools they need to succeed in school and life,” Polito added. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Washington, D.C, is the “pre-K capital,” “where nearly all 4-year-olds (and most 3-year-olds!) go to school,” according to the online news site LA School Report.

Why does a California-based publication care about Washington, D.C? Because Los Angeles is about to make its own investment in early education.

What makes D.C. a pre-K capital?

“Spurred by a landmark 2008 law, the District enrolls 85 percent or more of its four-year-olds (depending on who’s counting) and an even more remarkable 60-plus percent of three-year-olds.”

So on a Wednesday morning at “the Lincoln Park campus of AppleTree Early Learning, a network of pre-K charter schools,” young students are “nearing the end of a three-week unit on paleontology and archeology.” (more…)

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Photo: "At Smart Center pre-K today, it turned out my glasses weren't quite the perfect fit..." Mayor Kenney's Facebook page

Photo: Mayor Jim Kenney “At Smart Center pre-K today, it turned out my glasses weren’t quite the perfect fit…” Source: Mayor Kenney’s Facebook page

Philadelphia has a new first: the city is using a tax on soda to support an expansion of early education and other public programs.

Last month, “The City Council gave final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages,” according to the local ABC television station.

“Only Berkeley, California, had a similar law. Soda tax proposals have failed in more than 30 cities and states in recent years. Such plans are typically criticized as disproportionately affecting the poor, who are more likely to consume sugary drinks.

“But Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney sold the council on the idea with a plan to spend most of the estimated $90 million in new tax revenue next year to pay for prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers. Kenney says the tax will generate $386 million over 5 years.” (more…)

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